Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor Resource officer fills important role

To the editor:

I feel it is an obligation as a tax paying citizen and an administrator at Vermillion High School to respond to Frank Slagle's commentary in the May 21 issue of The Plain Talk. Perhaps Mr. Slagle doesn't understand the program. I personally have been in a school with a resource officer and have jointly cooperated with the Vermillion Police Department in experimenting with a liaison program.

Vermillion High School Principal Doug Tuetken and I spend approximately 12 hours a day supervising and maintaining the school grounds. We are responsible for the safety of over 470 students. I feel as a school administrator, it is my main responsibility to keep our school safe. Having a school liaison officer in our building enhances safety and builds a bridge between the young in our community and the law officials.

I attended East High School in Sioux City from 1977-1979. The three years I attended East High, Mike McCormick was the school's liaison officer. Mike had a great rapport with the students and established friendships with the students that still exist today. Mike was a great resource for the students who were having problems outside the school. Mike also defused potential problems by his presence and his availability to the students. Because of my relationship with Mike, I feel comfortable with police officials and have a greater respect for their profession. I would hate to deny our student body this opportunity.

In the short period in which the police department and the school district have experimented with the liaison program, I have personally witnessed a rapport grow between the resource officer and our student body. When the resource officer first came to our building the students were somewhat passive and apprehensive, making comments like, "Why is the cop here?" Now students come into my office asking, "When will the resource officer be here? I need to talk with him." I have watched the students ask the resource officer to eat lunch with them. I also witnessed a senior giving the officer a thank you the last day of school.

Mr. Tuetken, the staff and I are threatened by students and parents occasionally. Before the tragedy in Littleton, CO, I would brush off threats and determine it was made in the heat of the moment and had no merit. I can no longer do that. Generally after a cooling off period, a parent or student will apologize for the threat and admit their actions were inappropriate. This spring a student threatened Mr. Tuetken and followed through with his threat and assaulted him. Luckily for the school, a resource officer was available and defused the situation.

The program is free, and it promotes safety in our schools. I support the program and hope the majority of the city council members will give it great consideration.

In closing, I will continue to work to keep our schools safe for our children. I hope after reading my brief overview of the program, Mr. Slagle will give the program another look.

Curt Cameron

Assistant Principal

Vermillion High School

We need to cherish our children

To the editor:

All across our nation, and even the world, people are asking themselves how the unthinkable could have happened in Littleton, CO. When did our schools cease to be safe places to send our children each day and become war zones? Sadly, the tragedy in Littleton was not the first of its kind. There have been several other senseless, random killings the last few years in towns across the country. I thought each one was supposed to be a wake-up call, but now here we are facing the worst one yet.

So many factors seem to have contributed to what happened in each of these killings; violence, easy access to weapons, drugs, movies, TV, music and video games. And yet, no one wants to accept the responsibility for these � not the movie and TV studios, not the record companies and makers of video games, not even the parents of those two boys who claim they had no idea they had been making bombs right in their own garage. The movie and TV industries, along with makers of video games and music companies, after all, are only producing what they say the public wants. But who is allowing our children to watch violent television programs and movies? Who is allowing them to listen to music lyrics filled with violence and hate? And who is allowing them to play video games that virtually train children to become killers? We can't deny that some of these images have an influence on children.

When we become parents, we are given the awesome privilege and responsibility of caring for our children, teaching them values, manners and yes, responsibility. We can't and shouldn't expect the schools to teach them what should be taught at home. They've been forced to add this to the curriculum. Above all, our children need our love and attention. And that includes knowing what they're doing in school and with their friends, supporting them and encouraging them in their interests, simply talking with them and spending time with them.

We have them with us for such a short time. But while we do have them with us, they are learning from our example to be the kind of persons they will one day become. Our jobs and our own interests can't be more important than our children. We have to pay attention to the warning signs all around us.

When our children are small, don't we do everything we can to ensure their safety and well-being? That responsibility doesn't end then they become teenagers. They need and want guidance, love and discipline from us as parents. We need to be their parents and not their friends.

We shouldn't have to pray for our children's safety each day as they go off to school. Our wake-up call is that everyone needs to take responsibility, not just the movie industry, or just the gun manufacturers or just the parents. We need to cherish our children, and maybe even someone else's child. We all need to ask ourselves what we can do to prevent this from happening ever again.

Mary Hanson


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